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Foto: Inge Kalle-den Oudsten

Covid passport is an ‘incredibly complex’ problem for Crea and USC

20 september 2021 - 12:52

From this Saturday on, bars, cafes, restaurants and theaters will be required to check the coronapas of their visitors. In hybrid enterprises like Crea, or Café De Oerknal at Science Park, checking them is going to be a chore. ‘This is a Gordian knot’.

‘We had three meetings with seven colleagues last week, and we still haven't quite figured it out,’ Crea director Dennis van Galen says. ‘We have a café and there are concerts, for which we have to ask for the coronapas, and we have courses and educational activities for which we don't have to. And all of those people use the same toilet.’ There are also 56 student organizations in the building, whose ventilation regulations determine how many people are welcome in the offices.


Van Galen found out last week that there are very few similar institutions to Crea in the Netherlands, maybe four or five. ‘Many bar owners already find this difficult, for us it’s four times as difficult.’

Foto: Crea director Dennis van Galen

Sending people away

He cites an example: ‘Suppose a study wants to have its graduation ceremony in Crea. We are allowed to use the full capacity of our hall, without social distancing or checking Covid passports. But when the official part is over and we open the bar, we may only have three quarters of those people in the hall. And then we have to check their Covid passport as well.’


It's situations like this that make it a complex problem, according to Van Galen. ‘It's a Gordian knot, but fortunately we've almost untangled it. There are just a few loose ends we're left with.’


The preliminary outcome of those puzzle sessions is that visitors to the café and performances in the theater or music hall will be checked for their Covid passport. For other activities, such as the well-known Crea courses, this will not be the case.



Café de Oerknal at Science Park has similar problems, says Marco Hoekstra (member of the executive team of the University Sports Center). ‘Our visitors enter De Oerknal from three different directions, from the sports center, from the offices and from the terrace. We may be a catering facility, but we also have study places here. For the catering facilities we have to check passports, for study facilities we don't. The new rules are very difficult to handle for hybrid organizations like ours.’

‘It’s expensive. I estimate that we will need about one whole FTE to check the passports at the three entrances to the De Oerknal’

Moreover, USC's sports venues are also exempt from the coronapas. So first you can play a game of indoor soccer without having a Covid passport, but when you want to have a beer in De Oerknal, a passport is required. ‘And there are also students who only come here to study, do they also have to show their pass? Or the people who are only buying a coffee to go?’


Expensive verification

Checking the passports will be difficult, Hoekstra suspects. ‘And expensive. I estimate that we will need about one whole FTE to check the passports at the three entrances to the De Oerknal.’ Using de Oerknal temporarily only as a study area or as a restaurant to go is not an option, says Hoekstra.


‘Because of Covid, we've already missed so much revenue that we’re not going to do that. Besides: half of the players in the indoor football competition only participate because there is beer afterwards. So we're not going to close our doors.’


Staff shortage

For Crea, another issue comes into play, Van Galen explains. ‘We, like almost all other cafes and bars, are facing a staff shortage.’ That is why Crea has decided to only check Covid passports at performances, and to make the party that arranges the performance or meeting responsible for the ticket control.


In addition, the walking routes at Crea return, so that there’s only one entrance to the cafe. ‘But even then, scheduling will be a chore,’ Van Galen predicts. ‘It's the kind of schedule where you immediately have a problem if one person is sick or has to get tested.’